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Duck, Bean and Vegetable Stew

A selection of beans, such as white haricot, pinto, barlotti and kidney, may be used for this recipe. They can either be dried or tinned. Look for dried pulses which have a plump appearance and a bright
colour. Be wary of older pulses as they take longer to cook, and may fall apart during cooking. Dust is a clear sign of age. Pulses should also be of the same size so they will cook evenly. Some supermarkets sell mixtures of dried beans which are ideal for stews, but these need soaking overnight. If you need to soak them, use a large bowl as they tend to double in volume. Soak in cold water for 6-8 hours or overnight, and discard any that float to the top.
Duck meat varies according to the breed. Barbary duck is good to use because it is less fatty and has generous amounts of firm breast meat. Boned duck breasts are available from all good butchers and supermarkets. This dish can be complemented with fresh, crusty bread.

Preparation time : 30 minutes,
Cooking time : 1 1/2 - 2 hours,
Calories per serving: 400

Preparation time : 30 minutes,
Cooking time : 1 1/2 - 2 hours,
Calories per serving: 400

ingredients

serves 4
4 boned duck breast portions
4 small turnips
4 carrots
8 oz (225 g) dried beans
8 oz (225 g) small onions or shallots
14 oz (400 g) fresh or canned tomatoes
1 pint (570 ml) chicken stock
1 large glass of red wine (optional)
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

method

1. If there is a need to bone the duck breasts, remove the skin from the portions. Skinning the duck is easy when short, sharp strokes are made with a knife while peeling the skin back.

2. Once the skin has been removed, turn the pieces bone-side up and cut and scrape out the bones. Remove the tendon from the centre of each breast, stroking with a knife to strip it. Trim the meat. Replace the inner fillet if it detaches from the meat.

3. After boning them, cut each breast portion in half, crossways. Peel and halve the turnips. Quarter the carrots crossways and drain the beans if they were soaked.

4. Soaking can involve cold water or speeding the process with hot water. If you do soak, be sure to use a large pot as the beans will probably double in size. Place them in a large flameproof casserole dish with all of the remaining ingredients, except for the salt and black pepper.

5. Bring the ingredients to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 1/2 - 2 hours, until the beans are tender.

6. Remove the lid from the casserole for the last 20 minutes of cooking to allow the sauce to reduce. Season to taste with the salt and freshly ground black pepper, and remove the herb sprigs if desired.

7. Serve piping hot with the crusty bread.

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